G1 Climax 32 Day 6 Report: Robinson vs. Finlay, Archer vs. Lawlor

Bruce Lord recaps highlights and results from NJPW G1 Climax 32 Day 6 featuring Juice Robinson vs. David Finlay and Lance Archer vs. Tom Lawlor.

G1 Climax 32 Day 1 Report: Okada vs. Cobb, White vs. SANADA

G1 Climax 32 Day 6 Report: Robinson vs. Finlay, Archer vs. Lawlor

The G1 continued on with a solid show this past Sunday which featured two quite enjoyable matches (and one absolute dud), but maybe more importantly put forth the first major storyline of this year’s tournament: the disastrous start of Tetsuya Naito. Plenty of pundits and commentators – and sometimes Naito himself – are beginning to circle around the question of how much longer the injury-hampered leader of Los Ingobernables de Japon will be staying in professional wrestling, let alone the main event scene of a company with as taxing a workload as NJPW. Despite the criticism which can be laid at the company’s feet for failing to prepare its next generation of main event stars, there’s plenty of money to be made in what might be Naito’s last title run, and kickstarting that with a big C block run to catch up with Zack Sabre Jr. feels like classic Gedo booking.

Today’s show doesn’t necessarily look to have any work rate classics on paper, but there’s a lot riding on the clash between former IWGP Tag Team Champions FinJuice. Juice Robinson has been given a lot of storyline and mic time since joining the Bullet Club in his Rock Hard persona, and if his move up the card is to be cemented with in-ring performances, he could hardly ask for a better opponent than someone he knows as well as David Finlay. Today also sees the first tournament matches for our last three competitors yet to see G1 action: Great-O-Khan, EVIL, and Tom Lawlor. From the legendary Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, it’s the sixth show of the 32nd G1 Climax.

  1. Undercard – Nothing must-see on the undercard, though the CHAOS/Suzuki-Gun match is fun enough if you have time to spare. Also, I continue to be impressed by how well Bad Dude Tito’s been able to hang with G1-level wrestlers. Kosei Fujita was a late scratch, which was explained on commentary as the result of damage dished out by KENTA on Wednesday, and was replaced by Ryohei Oiwa.
  2. G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Chase Owens vs. Great-O-Khan – A decent enough showcase for O-Khan’s charisma and offense.
  3. G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: KENTA vs. EVIL – Ten minutes of House Of Torture grab-ass. You’ve been warned.
  4. G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Lance Archer vs. Tom Lawlor – A fun clash of striking and submissions which served both men well. – RECOMMENDED
  5. G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Juice Robinson vs. David Finlay – After a slow start, the main event measures up to its billing by drawing upon both men’s histories individually and as a tag team. – RECOMMENDED

Ryohei Oiwa & Yuto Nakashima vs. House Of Torture (SHO & Yujiro Takahashi)

SHO submits Yuta Nakashima at 6:27.

CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano) vs. TMDK (Bad Dude Tito & JONAH)

Toru Yano pins Bad Dude Tito at 8:16.

Hirooki Goto, Jado & Tama Tonga vs. United Empire (Aaron Henare, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay)

Aaron Henare submits Jado at 8:27.

CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI) & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Suzuki-gun (Taichi, TAKA Michinoku & Zack Sabre Jr.)

YOSHI-HASHI pins TAKA Michinoku at 9:02.

BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, El Phantasmo, Gedo & Jay White) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)

BUSHI pins Gedo at 10:06.

G1 Climax 2022 Block B Match: Chase Owens vs. Great-O-Khan

Owens throws powder in O-Khan’s face as he’s entering the ring. Owens hits a blinded O-Khan with a Northern Lights and maintains the advantage with some slow paced striking and grinding. O-Khan begins to get back into things five minutes in with the Mongolian chops, and repeatedly smashes Owens’ head against the apron using the claw grip. Back inside, Owens slips out of an Eliminator attempt and tries to use the ropes for a pin. Owens sunset flips O-Khan into the turnbuckle, but O-Khan uses the claw to block a C-trigger and hits a TTD. Owens pulls O-Khan’s throat into the ropes, hits the C-trigger, and puts his opponent away with the package piledriver.

Chase Owens defeats Great-O-Khan via pinfall at 11:59.

The takeaway: O-Khan started off fighting from underneath as the babyface put his unique charisma and moveset in an interesting position, and on the whole this worked. There’s a bit of a disappointment in having a wrestler as interesting as O-Khan drop his first match to Owens, but there’s tournament math to be considered.

G1 Climax 2022 Block C Match: KENTA vs. EVIL

Dick Togo’s out with EVIL, as there’s a heavy quotient of House of Torture BS which needs to be met with EVIL only having his first tournament match today. Some handshake, too-sweet, ring bell, and hammer horseplay starts things off, with even KENTA’s new book being used as a prop. Inside the ring, there’s a quick pair of ref bumps allowing for the Togo double-team and for KENTA to use his crutch for the Eddie fake-out spot. KENTA gets his Game Over submission in just in time for the lights to go out (we can’t have any actual wrestling in an EVIL match, after all), and EVIL has KENTA throttled with a shirt when they come back on. KENTA blocks EVIL’s home run chair spot on the outside, and after both men stymie each other’s attempts to get back in the ring, Togo reaches out from under the apron to grab KENTA’s legs and count him out.

EVIL defeats KENTA via count-out at 10:15.

The takeaway: Well, it wasn’t until my fourth report that I had to cover an EVIL match this year, so I can count my blessings. My reports from last year’s G1 were full of diatribes about how boring EVIL’s shtick was, so I’ll spare you one of those now. I guess it’s mildly preferable to see EVIL’s playbook be used in a comic role against fellow Bullet Club members rather than in “serious” and lengthy G1 matches, but that doesn’t mean this didn’t suck.

G1 Climax 2022 Block A Match: Lance Archer vs. Tom Lawlor

Archer powers his way out of Lawlor’s early grappling attempts and goads the Filthy One into a forearm exchange. Archer connects with a big pounce and wears Lawlor down outside. Lawlor can’t create any space with jabs and foot stomps and gets sent across the ring with a release vertical suplex. Lawlor transitions between a guillotine to a wristlock to hammer elbows, but Archer lays him out with a big boot. Lawlor gets an armbar for a minute but cockily goes back to the forearms. Lawlor counters another pounce with a guillotine but quickly finds himself choke slammed from the apron to the floor on top of Royce Isaacs. Back inside, Lawlor kicks out of a Black Hole Slam and Archer fights out of the Nasty Knee On The Brain setup. Lawlor tries to wear Archer down with rear-naked chokes, but Archer lifts him up for the Blackout and the win before he can do so.

Lance Archer defeats Tom Lawlor via pinfall at 11:49.

The takeaway: The buzz around Archer’s return to NJPW was palpable as soon as he was announced for the G1, and unlike the sloppy mess that was his walk-and-brawl with Fale, this was a match that delivered on that hype. Lawlor’s done a great job of getting his greasy charisma and submission style across on previous undercards, and the question of whether he’d be able to wear down the Murderhawk Monster before he was knocked out gave this match a simple but entertaining story that played to both men’s strengths. 

G1 Climax 2022 Block D Match: Juice Robinson vs. David Finlay

Juice shoves the ring announcer out of the ring upon his entrance, claiming on the mic to still be the IWGP US Heavyweight champion. That Finlay’s been eclipsed by both Juice and White and is in desperate need of justifying his place within NJPW is put across by Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton as the two exchange wrist and headlocks. Juice takes Finlay outside for a guided tour of the scenic guardrails and ring posts. Back inside, Juice targets the left arm (note: not Finlay’s surgically repaired one), eventually sinking in a lengthy Fujiwara armbar.

After Finlay makes it to the ropes, Juice pulls the mats off of Korakuen’s call but Finlay uses a backdrop to avoid a piledriver and gives Juice his own taste of the guardrails. Back inside, Finlay hits an Irish Curse and begins to grind, stomp, and bite at the once-broken left hand of Juice. Juice pulls off a corner pad and sends Finlay’s shoulder into the post. Juice switches over to the Right Hand Of God to set up a Juice Box. Juice hits a superplex but Finlay manages a Trash Panda neckbreaker. Juice takes a powder, and when he comes back in, he evades another Trash Panda, uses the Left Hand Of God, and hits Pulp Friction, but Finlay kicks out at two for the first real reaction from the crowd. Juice sets Finlay up for a draping Pulp Friction, but Finlay’s escapes and hits a Prima Nocta and Acid Drop for a very near fall which Juice avoids only by getting a foot on the rope at the last instant. Finlay lariats Juice outside and goes for a springboard to the outside, but Juice punches Finlay out of the sky and finally hits the piledrives to the exposed floor. Back inside, Juice goes for his new Rockslide finisher but Finlay evades it, and Juice crashes into Red Shoes. Juice misses with a belt shot and is clocked by Finlay’s shillelagh. Finlay goes for the pin but pulls Juice up at two to hit the Trash Panda and seal a clean(er) win.

David Finlay defeats Juice Robinson via pinfall at 24:04

After the pinfall, Finlay takes the US belt and tells Ospreay and Juice that both men will have to come through him to consolidate their disputed claims to the championship.

The takeaway: Both men entered this match with something to prove. For Juice, it’s the long-term goal of capitalizing on the position he’s been placed in within a resurgent Bullet Club. For Finlay, it was the short-term goal of ensuring that his long-delayed first G1 wouldn’t be defined by its first impression of a mediocre count-out loss to Yujiro. While it wasn’t an unconditional success, this match was largely able to meet those goals.

The slower pace and generic guardrail spots kept the crowd (and your humble reporter) out of the first half of this, but the second half paid off some of the early set-ups and there were a number of nice allusions to both men’s histories.

Final Thoughts

The shortest card of the tournament thus far (both in terms of bell-to-bell G1 time and overall file length on New Japan World) didn’t have any stone classics, but was fun enough to watch, especially if you’re able to find something more entertaining with which to distract yourself during EVIL/KENTA (like dusting your shoe tree collection or arranging your boxes of breakfast cereal alphabetically). Each of these matches hinged much more on character, style, and story than pure work rate, which admittedly isn’t what the G1’s reputation is built upon, but with its large gaps between individual competitors’ matches (or before their first ones, like today), the four-block format seems to necessitate a lot of story and character work being integrated into the matches themselves.

Mark Buckeldee will have a report on tomorrow’s card, the second of two at Korakuen, which looks to be hampered early on by Yujiro Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay and Toru Yano vs. Bad Luck Fale. However, a sober hoss fight featuring Hirooki Goto vs. Aaron Henare and the main event contest of Tomohiro Ishii vs. Tama Tonga should fare better.

About Bruce Lord 28 Articles
Bruce Lord lives in Vancouver where, between AEW and NJPW binges, he blogs and podcasts about industrial and goth music at idieyoudie.com.